The interview had been difficult to arrange. I was to meet a nervous 16-year-old girl in the office of a Buffalo child psychologist.
I had to agree that we would not publish the girl's full name, or her picture. Not many teenagers are anxious to talk publicly about slashing themselves with razor blades.
I didn't quite know what to expect as I sat down with Ann, an adorable, obviously intelligent young lady with a deeply troubled past. I could see she was extremely nervous as we began to speak. I tried to put her at ease by telling her that my wife is a school guidance counselor who has been helping self-injuring kids for years. I also told her I've interviewed people about all kinds of horrible situations in 29 years as a Buffalo News reporter.
Little by little, Ann opened up. She told me all about the fears and pressures that caused her to spend three years of her life cutting her arms, legs and shoulders. By the end of the two-hour interview, I felt l I knew her. Ann gave me a huge smile.
"At first, I was really nervous," she told me. "But I'm glad I did this. I hope other kids [who are cutting] will read the story and get some help."
I do, too, Ann. I really do.
And thanks for sharing your story.